This is going to be one of those posts that I need to disclaim upfront. I AM NOT A DIETITIAN OR A NUTRITION EXPERT NOR DO I HAVE ANY TRAINING IN NUTRITION OR HEALTH FOOD. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express one time. And I ate the biscuits and gravy at their continental breakfast. So that should give me the clout that I need to write this post.
No amount of exercise can undo a poor diet, right? I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really lose weight is to watch what you eat by counting calories and by controlling portions.
But I have also come to another conclusion.
Eating less calories WILL help you lose weight, BUT if you are ONLY worried about calories, then you may lose weight and NOT get healthy. Huh? What’s that you say? I thought you just said counting calories is the best way to lose weight?…That’s right. Counting calories will help you lose weight, but there is more to it than that.
This is a lifestyle change for me. Not just a diet. Not just a limited calorie counting adventure in which I hopefully lose a lot of weight and then start eating all the stuff again that got me fat in the first place. I don’t plan on ever eating like that again. I am fueling my body with food. Not satisfying a desire for luxury and self-indulgence.
So what are you saying Hank?…Get to the point dammit!
I can eat 1800 calories a day and still lose weight because I will be burning more calories than I take in. That part makes plenty of sense. But did you know that I can eat 1800 calories worth of ice cream and cake and still lose weight? Is that possible? Yes. It is. But it is ridiculous. Not to mention that 1800 calories worth of cake and ice cream would not satisfy my hunger throughout the day and I would either breakdown and eat more or I would end up starving to death. Did you know that there are foods that may be HIGHER in calories, but that the health benefits outweigh the calorie count? 200 calories of heart healthy avocado are SO MUCH better for you than a 100-calorie processed food snack pack.
So the goal is to eat 1800 calories, spread throughout the day, and MAKE SURE that the calories that I am taking in are ones that will be beneficial to my body. By the way, 1800 calories of cake on a plate versus 1800 calories of turkey, broccoli, sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, spinach, avocado, and black beans on a plate look so completely different. 1800 calories of nutritious food will satisfy you better. And the health benefits of the latter will have such better and lasting effects on your body.
I am trying to eat nutrient dense foods (veggies, fruits, legumes and beans) as 50-70% of my daily caloric intake. The health benefits from eating this way are immeasurable. I am also really trying to avoid processed food. The less steps between the food in its natural state and the state in which you put it in your mouth, the better. When I fix a plate of food I try to have 50-70% raw or lightly cooked vegetables. I throw some fruit in there if it is available. Then I try and have a serving size portion of lean protein. While I am not a carb-counter by any means, I really try and limit the white foods (ie, potatoes, bleached rice, rolls or bread, other processed carbs.) As a matter of fact, I have not had a serving of potatoes in one sitting since I have adopted my new lifestyle.
Here is a visual that explains how I would like to see myself eating for the rest of my life. This is a food pyramid, but it is vastly different than the USDA endorsed version.
I know that many of you will think that I am crazy or that this is a stupid way of eating, but I can tell you that I have seen the light and the light wants me to eat my veggies.